We have to move in less than two months. Alongside of the regular stress that accompanies the search for a new apartment (or “piso”), we are finding that Spain adds a few interesting twists:
- The economic crisis in Spain centers around an absolute debacle in the housing market. It is the greatest cause for the crisis. As I understand it, 10 years ago banks gave thousands and thousands of loans they NEVER should have given to people who had no business buying flats. And now they are “pagando factura,” that is to say, they are paying the consequences in a big way. More and more houses or apartments are being repossessed, but the banks are refusing to release the houses in mass back on the market, for fear that this would drive prices even lower. It appears that the current government will force banks to put these houses back on the market very soon, but we’ll see.
- Many of the apartments or flats that we find online, to rent or to buy, shouldn’t actually be on the market. They are what is called “protección oficial,” flats that the current owners bought, with help from the government, with the stipulation that they wouldn’t sell or rent them. In other words, the government said, “we’ll help you buy this house and give it to you at a cheap price, just don’t use this to your advantage.” Unfortunately, so many people bought these houses, ignored the government and put them on the market. Since the government doesn’t do much to stop it, over half of what we find online is unavailable if we want to be “completely” honest.
- Many people say it’s time to buy right now. Prices haven’t been this low in almost 10 years, before the housing boom. We have considered it, but are a little nervous about the economic climate, whether or not Spain will be in the Euro in a few years, etc.
Please pray for us as we look and seek God’s help!